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Adaptation Aftereffects in the Perception of Asset Returns

Call 2013 - Call 2014 (pilots)
Business and Economics
Psychology

Prolonged viewing of a stimulus results in a subsequent perceptual bias. Numerous classic examples illustrate the marked adaptability of perception and how changes in the states of adaptation profoundly alter the way the world looks. For examples, after viewing a red
square a gray square appears greenish; exposure to a tilted line causes a vertical line to appear tilted in the opposite direction; and after a few moments looking at the downward flow of a waterfall, the static rocks to the side appear to ooze upward.

Strikingly, it has been discovered recently that adaptation aftereffects occur not only for simple stimulus dimensions but also for highly complex and abstract image properties. Building on these discoveries, we conjecture that adaptation aftereffects also occur in the context of perceiving the risk/reward profiles of asset returns. The seed phase of the project will be a behavioral experiment to test this conjecture. If confirmed, we will then conduct a second phase to explore the neural underpinnings of the perceptual biases identified in the experiment.

The first stage of the project will consist in having participants complete a simple perceptual task in the lab. In each of 35 experimental trials, participants will face an adapting stimulus in a 60-150 sec adaptation phase, followed (after a 1 sec delay) by a test stimulus displayed during a 15 sec test phase. During that test phase, subjects will give their first percept of the test stimulus by means of a rating on a scale from 1 to 5. We will run three treatments. In the first treatment, the adapting stimulus will be a financial series with either high average returns (in half of the trials) or low average returns (in the other half), and the test stimulus will have neutral returns. If neuronal adaptation prevails, we should find that on average, in the test phase, the perceived returns will be markedly lower after prolonged exposure to high returns in the adapting phase, compared to the return levels perceived after prolonged exposure to low returns. In the second treatment, the adapting stimulus will be a financial series with either high volatility (in half of the trials) or low volatility (in the other half), and the test stimulus will have neutral volatility. In the third treatment, the adapting stimulus will be a financial series with either a good profile (high average returns coupled with low volatility), in half of the trials, or a bad profile (low returns and high volatility). The test stimulus will be neutral in both dimensions (average returns and volatility). If aftereffects occur for both dimensions simultaneously, we should find that after prolonged exposure to the good profile, subjects will perceive the financial series in the test phase as worse than they would otherwise.

In the second stage of the project, we will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI ) to measure brain activity of subjects while they are performing the foregoing task. Note that the realization of this second stage is contingent on the identification of strong and robust aftereffects in the first experiment. This step-by-step approach is advisable given the high costs of running an imaging study.

projects
Participants
Prof. Tony Berrada
University of Geneva
Prof. Bernard Balleine
University of Sydney

Developing Sustainable Teaching and Research Collaborations in the Geneva Global Studies Network

Call 2013 - Call 2014 (pilots)
Political Science
International Relations

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) is partnering with the University of Geneva newly launched Global Studies Network at the undergraduate program level, via the Bachelor of International and Global Studies (with a preferred international study period carried out at Geneva), and aims to develop potential joint curricular modules and to deepen already existing individual academic research links under the broad parameters of the Global Studies Network.

The network was initiated from the Geneva side in 2013 with a small number of institutions around the world joining the program. In order for this network to evolve, it needs to move beyond the exchange of students portion which is already happening freely between our institutions, to include Sydney academics moving to Geneva for short periods of research and course delivery, for synergies between UG and PG courses, with specific strengths at each university node identified and greater mobility and accreditation options for students to gain maximum value from teaching and research strengths in each of the nodes.

Three members from Geneva Global Studies Network including Prof. Levrat to visit Sydney for four days, days one to three will focus on individual meetings with relevant Sydney staff not only in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences but also in the Law School and Business School. Meetings will be organised via Sydney in advance to ensure maximum time and relevance from the visit. At the end of the visit program, an exploratory workshop with key Arts stakeholders will be organised to delineate key areas for cooperation and responsible academic teams involved in the next phase.

projects
Participants
Prof. Nicolas Levrat Ph.D.
University of Geneva
Prof. Duncan Ivison
University of Sydney

Energy Futures Project: Horizon 2020, Australia-Switzerland Renewable Energy Outlook

Call 2013 - Call 2014 (pilots)
Earth and Environment

The use of renewable, clean energy, whether as part of a suite of solutions to reduce carbon emissions in response to global warming or to take advantage of plentiful natural resources, has expanded over the last decade. From 2000 to 2011 the global solar, wind and biofuels market has grown from $US6.5bn to $US245bn, and is projected to grow to $US386bn by 2021 (Clean Edge 2012). The solar power market in particular has demonstrated considerable growth, expanding from $US2.5bn to $US91.6bn, with expected growth to $US130.5bn by 2021 (Clean Edge 2012).

This research project is a timely assessment of efforts made by the Australian and Swiss governments to pursue a greater share of renewable energy in their respective country’s overall energy use. The rationale for comparing data drawn from these two countries is that whilst they are both developed economies, their energy needs have interesting similarities yet important differences. In the case of Switzerland, the government has declared its intention to withdraw from the use of nuclear energy, step-by-step, in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster while at the same time decreasing its dependence on the import of fossil fuels from 40% to 16% by 2050 (thus saving an estimated CHF 7 billion). For Australia, whilst the country is a major energy producer, exporting some 80% of its total energy production (primarily coal and gas), the 2012 Energy White Paper stipulates that the country should pursue an energy security strategy underpinned by the supply of secure, reliable, competitively priced clean energy to consumers.

Based on the collected data, the project’s objective is to compare both countries’ renewable energy development trajectory and analyse local translation of the global trends of energy demand and supply.

projects
Participants
Dr Alexandre Hedjazi
University of Geneva
Prof. Leanne Piggott
University of Sydney

Environmental Policy Challenges in the Anthropocene

Call 2013 - Call 2014 (pilots)
Earth and Environment

The objective of this joint proposal by the Sydney Environment Institute and the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva is to initiate collaboration based on the different yet complementary competences and achievements of staff at both institutions. This proposal presents activities to be completed in 2014 with the aim of establishing a framework for future collaboration in both teaching and research on complex environmental issues. This document drafted by Professor Roderick Lawrence (UNIGE) and Professor David Schlosberg (UNISYD) briefly presents the collaboration envisaged in 2014, objectives and goals of the grant period, a budget, and an overview of the engaged Institutes at both universities.

We propose two sets of activities in 2014, entailing the visit of two representatives of the University of Geneva to the University of Sydney in February, and of two Sydney academics to UNIGE in September. Each delegation will include one Professor and one early career researcher in environmental studies. At each institution, visitors will participate in both a large planned event and a specialized workshop.

In the first instance, the Sydney Environment Institute will host a conference on Environmental Humanities and the Anthropocene from 26 to 28 February 2014. The first day will be dedicated to the interface of the natural sciences and humanities and Professor Roderick Lawrence has agreed to speak on the added value of transdisciplinary approaches to deal with complex environmental issues. UNIGE visitors will participate in a range of events around the conference, with the aim of gaining a sense of the work of the Sydney Environment Institute and its interdisciplinary environmental humanities group. In addition to the conference, visitors from UNIGE will join a select set of Sydney academics for a one-day workshop focused on potential projects of mutual interest. The second set of events will take place in Geneva around the Global Environmental Policy Program’s Executive Summer School in August. Professor David Schlosberg will contribute to the Summer School, on the future of, and ethical grounding for, environmental management in the Anthropocene. After the Summer School, the Sydney visitors and Geneva faculty will participate in a workshop on potential future joint projects.

projects
Participants
Prof. Roderick Lawrence
University of Geneva
Prof. David Schlosberg
University of Sydney

3d UNIGE-USyd-Harvard-Renmin Law Schools Research Conference: Dispute Resolution, In/formalisation and Glocalisation

Call 2015
Law
International Relations

This project builds on the 1st and 2nd joint research conferences, hosted in January 2013 at UNIGE (focusing on concepts of "property", supported by a USydney IPDF grant) and in July 2014 at Renmin University in Beijing ("corporate governance and social responsibility"). Each partner Law School plans to host one such conference, so the aim is for USydney to host the 3rd conference in July 2015 and for Harvard later to host the 4th event. The overarching aim is for our legal academics from these leading university Law Schools to compare developments abroad, opening up scope for joint publications or research grant applications and teaching initiatives.

The conference themes are designed to engage a broad and diverse group of legal academics from each Law School, bringing different perspectives on a general problem common across borders that is also relevant for policy­ makers and the wider community. The theme for the 3rd conference is Dispute Resolution (DR), a hot topic which will allow contributions from legal academics who have net yet been able to participate in the two earlier joint conferences. Specifically, the conference will encourage speakers to focus on (a) the perennial "informalisation" tension, between formalisation (often generating delays and costs) and informalisation in court and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures, which increasingly intersects with (b) a "glocalisation" tension, between local legal traditions (even parochialism) and internationalisation.

We plan to compare these tensions across multiple contexts, including:

  1. business-to-consumer/employee DR: through court and tribunal procedures (including collective redress mechanisms such as class actions), or ADR mechanisms (including industry-based Ombudsman and online mediation schemes);
  2. business-to-business DR: through court procedures, or domestic and international commercial arbitration and mediation;
  3. DR involving government entities: through court, administrative tribunal and ADR processes, (investment treaty based) investor-state arbitration, and inter-state DR (including WTO and international maritime or environmental law procedures).
projects
Participants
Prof. Christine Chappuis
University of Geneva
Prof. Luke Nottage
University of Sydney

Conservation of Australian Aboriginal Bush Medicine through a Phytochemical Library: Case Study of Hibbertia Scandens (Willd.) Gilg

Call 2015
Medicine

Australia has a rich biodiversity and also has the World’s oldest culture alive today which blends the land, its people and their traditions. For centuries Aboriginal people have used available natural resources such as clay, fungi, insects, and plants, to treat their illnesses, ncluding burns, pain, infections, infertility, and diabetes. Medicinal remedies were prepared by specific techniques involving smoking,
grounding, infusing one or more natural products; eventually creating the practice of the bush medicine. Unfortunately, some of this knowledge has been lost, for example, due to poor recording or the changing nature of diseases. While uncapping the medicinal otential of Aboriginal plants is still ongoing, this study proposes to build a centralised chemical database of the plant extracts according to the techniques used for their medicinal preparations (i.e. infusion, smoking, etc.). Such a library will be a databank of extracts with chemical metabolomic profiles for dereplication and will serve as a ’conserved chemical‘ catalogue for Aboriginal people to pass down through generations. The Hibbertia scandens (Willd.) Gilg, recently catalogued Aboriginal medicinal plant (TGA) will be used as a case study to prove the concept. Such uncapped Aboriginal natural product as the Hibbertia scandens (Willd.) Gilg, could find prominent application in fighting diseases such as MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Overall, this proposal aims to validate the concept of a centralised phytochemical library within the capacity of the present grant using the Hibbertia scandens (Willd.) Gilg as a model and will be the backbone for the further grant applications for the establishment of a much wider library based on the expertise of the Australian and Swiss teams involved.

projects
Participants
Prof. Jean-Luc Wolfender
University of Geneva
Prof. Paul Groundwater
University of Sydney

Investigation of microparticle protein contents in brain-associated tropical diseases

Call 2015
Medicine

Microparticles (MPs) are small plasma membrane derived vesicles, released by many cell types and known to be involved in cell-­cell communication. Because of their formation process, MPs keep part of the content of their cell of origin such as proteins, nucleic acids lipids. MPs have been shown to play an important role in human cerebral malaria (CM), a syndrome causing 1 million deaths/year. The aim of this project is to characterize the proteomics content of MPs isolated from a well-­established murine model of CM. A quantitative proteomics workflow will be established and used to compare MPs proteins obtained from infected and non-­‐infected mice as well as mice genetically susceptible or resistant to the neurological syndrome.

Proteomics results will be then analysed to highlight new potential mechanisms associated to MPs in CM and will be further investigated in human CM clinical plasma samples. Based on the evidences already collected on CM and the rising interest of MPs in many pathological conditions, we also hypothesize that MPs may play a role in the pathogenesis of human African trypanosomiasis – HAT or sleeping sickness – a neglected tropical disease characterized by the progression from a blood (S1) to a brain stage (S2) of infection. To assess this hypothesis, MPs will be investigated in the plasma from HAT patients (S1 and S2), through a first characterization by flow cytometry and then through quantitative proteomics analyses. As for CM, the results obtained will hopefully help to better understand the mechanisms of disease progression from the blood to the brain stage and might reveal new potential plasma biomarkers for HAT staging.

projects
Participants
Prof. Jean-Charles Sanchez
University of Geneva
Prof. Valery Combes
University of Sydney
Prof. Georges Grau
University of Sydney

Beyond Health Security

Call 2016
Health

Global health security’ emerged in the last decade, framing reactions to new risks posed by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. These include Ebola and the threat of pandemic influenza. Linked to concepts of national security (eg military security and border protection), security approaches justify short-term interventions to contain problems. Responses often focus more on protecting the global North against threats from the global South than on long term solutions to the problems of weak or non-existent health systems. We start from a concern that the current health security paradigm is too security focused and misses 'social' and human security. This project explores

  • The changing languages of security in global health policy. We will look at the permutations of security as an objective of global and national governance of health. In the 1990s solidarity-based social security models broadened into the UNDP’s developmental aims of ‘human security’. The latter stressed both individual security and universal objectives – the building of collective capabilities. These concepts of security have been displaced in the recent turn towards national security.

  • The meanings of these concepts at country level: a) what do people in an affected country think? b) How does the global debate shape the way agendas play out on the ground? c) How have perceived external threats reshaped the politics of health and welfare in wealthier countries?

The project contributes towards a new concept of global health security built on long term solutions, driven by local initiatives linked to sustainable development and global health solidarity.

projects
Participants
Prof. Antoine Flahault
University of Geneva
Dr. Didier Wernli
University of Geneva
Dr Emilien Jeannot
University of Geneva
A/Prof James Gillespie PhD
University of Sydney
A/Prof Joel Negin PhD
University of Sydney
Dr Carmen Huckel-Schneider PhD
University of Sydney
Prof Patrick Zylberman
French School of Public Health

Global and Regional Migration Governance

Call 2016
Political Science
Migration Studies
International Relations

International migration constitutes one of the fields with the most pressing need for international cooperation today. Since the 1990s, multilateral initiatives attempting to address migration have proliferated. Frequently, however, they remain based on soft law frameworks or operational activities deployed by international and non-governmental organizations. In terms of developing an international regime for the regulation of migration flows, these initiatives remain hesitant at best, reflecting most countries' reluctance to tie their hands to new and binding international norms that potentially encroach upon the sensitive issue of national sovereignty. In the meantime, cooperation at the regional level has developed more dynamically. As a result, today we count formal schemes on regional mobility as well as regional consultation processes on international migration more broadly on all continents. Based on long-standing cooperation between the two applicants, this project intends to move the comparative analysis of regional migration governance in its multilateral context ahead, focusing on three main aspects: 1. The interplay between regional cooperation and multilateral institutions and initiatives; 2. The links and mutual influences between different regional cooperation settings, which could indicate elements of an emerging cross-regional consensus; and 3. The comparison across regional initiatives in order to establish a base of knowledge on existing commonalities and differences. We will address this research agenda through various channels, including cooperation in teaching; joint publications; the organization of an (externally funded) international workshop bringing together representatives from pertinent international and regional organisations as well as renowned and junior scholars; and cooperation in the development of a joint Research project as well as an annual summer school on Global and Regional Migration Governance.

projects
Participants
Prof. Sandra Lavenex
University of Geneva
Prof. Nicola Piper
University of Sydney

Systematic approaches to the study of diabetes

Call 2016
Medicine
Health

Diabetes is a major health problem in the developed world and studies over the last decades have shown that causality and manifestation of the disease are complex. Recently, certain lipids have been implicated in disease etiology, but their precise roles are unknown. In order to obtain a more global picture and identify more precise correlations it is necessary to perform systematic studies. The James lab in Sydney has pioneered systematic studies of diabetes and the Riezman lab has developed the technology to do systematic lipidomics, which they are applying in the context of type 2 diabetes (Sinergia grant, SNSF). It is important to combine these two innovative technologies to study type 2 diabetes and therefore, requires extended visits between the two laboratories to exchange information and plan out future collaborations. Both laboratories are highly regarded internationally, have generous support through their research grants and can contribute the personnel to do the experiments. However, travel money for the necessary networking is lacking. Therefore, support for the project through this instrument will be crucial to start the project. In addition, the newly created Faculty Center for Diabetes at the University of Geneva, to which the Riezman lab is associated, will benefit from the visit of David James in Geneva, both through discussions, but also through increased visibility.

projects
Participants
Prof. Howard Riezman
University of Geneva
Prof. David James
University of Sydney

A novel approach to improving skeletal fragility in type II diabetes mellitus

Call 2017
Medicine
Health

It is common knowledge that the worldwide prevalence of type II diabetes is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Increased bone fragility and high fracture risk are under-recognised complications of long-term hyperglycemia in type II diabetes. As a result, patients have an increased risk of falls, fractures, reduced quality of life and increased mortality rates. Neither anti-diabetic medications, that aim to lower blood glucose, nor anti-osteoporotic medications, that aim to increase bone turnover, work to improve the risks and rates of bone fractures in these patients. Dr Tara Brennan-Speranza from the University of Sydney and Dr Nicolas Bonnet from UNIGE have devised a project that aims to test the innovative approach of combining anti-diabetic medications already on the market for the maintenance of blood glucose levels, with novel molecules that act on the calcium-sensing receptor at the bone forming osteoblasts to increase bone formation and stimulate new bone turnover. This project directly creates new target options for treating these patients and improving the fracture risk and quality of life. The proposal is based on clear preliminary data on the effects of diabetes in mice and the activation of the calcium-sensing receptor in the bone forming cells. This project requires the extended visitation of Dr Bonnet to the Brennan-Speranza laboratory at the University of Sydney, during which time, the two investigators will also run an inaugural, and much-needed, up-to-date bone histomorphometry workshop for Australian musculoskeletal scientists. Funding for this travel and the running of the workshop is currently lacking.

projects
Participants
Dr. Nicolas Bonnet
University of Geneva
Dr. Tara Brennan-Speranza
University of Sydney

Fluorescent anion sensors for use in aqueous environments

Call 2017
Chemistry

Fluorescent sensors capable of binding selectively and strongly to anions in water will provide innovative technologies for the detection of anionic species in a range of areas including environmental (e.g. monitoring of sulfate levels in wastewater) and biomedical applications (e.g. detection of chloride concentrations in blood). Currently available receptors are either limited to organic solvents or can not discriminate between anions. New hydrogen bonding motifs with proven ability to bind to ions anions in aqueous solution will be appended to water soluble dyes to provide fluorescent sensors. The molecular scaffolds will be tailored to match the size and shape of sulfate and chloride anions and their ability to selectively sense these anions will be evaluated. We will develop novel designs and methodologies to create sensors for anion binding in water that will underpin future applications.

projects
Participants
Prof. Jérôme Lacour
University of Geneva
Prof. Katrina Joliffe
University of Sydney

Improving the treatment of obesity by global implementation of current best practice

Call 2017
Medicine
Health

Obesity is a major contributor to disease, but interventions to reduce obesity markedly reduce morbidity and mortality. Some obesity treatments are more effective than others, with some centers achieving clinically significant weight losses maintained for up to 5 years after treatment in over 50% of users, compared to others reporting minimal long-term weight loss. Despite current availability of reasonably effective obesity treatments, they are underutilized by health professionals around the world, partly due to lack of knowledge about implementation. This project will combine the expertise of the world-leading centers of obesity research and clinical practice at the Universities of Geneva and Sydney, to consolidate methods for implementation of the most effective obesity treatments, and disseminate this knowledge to health professionals around the world. Research in the Geneva obesity center is led by Dr Zoltan Pataky and Professor Alain Golay (the Geneva Clinic Director), and research in the Sydney team is led by Associate Professor Amanda Salis and Associate Professor Tania Markovic (the Sydney Clinic Director). Both teams are well resourced with competitive grants, infrastructure, staff and students to move collaboration forwards. However, what is lacking is funding for the necessary travel for face to face visits between teams to compare and exchange information and plan translational activities and future research. This seed funding will enable the Geneva and Sydney obesity centers to combine forces to not only increase their own effectiveness in Geneva and Sydney, but to also gain greater global visibility to facilitate translation into clinical practice of effective obesity treatments.

projects
Participants
Prof. Alain Golay
University of Geneva
Dr. Zoltan Pataky
University of Geneva
Prof. Amanda Salis
University of Sydney
Prof. Tania Markovic
University of Sydney

International Organizations as sites if international memory

Call 2017
Political Science
International Relations

2019 marks the hundredth anniversary of the international order that radically reshaped the 20th century and became the benchmark against which changes in international politics in the 21st century are measured. 1919 saw the creation of the League of Nations and its economic and social counterpart, the International Labour Organization, all headquartered in Geneva. This is the context in which we have conceived this project: On one side the University of Geneva, working with the Graduate Institute (HEID), and building on its optimal location and privileged links to international organizations, the hub of a new network for historical studies of international organizations [HION] (https://www.hion.ch) with plans to commemorate the 1919 centenary. On the other side, the University of Sydney, home to the Laureate Research Program in International History funded by the Australian Research Council, which has launched its sites of international memory initiative, and is scoping a new methodological inquiry into the present and future of international history. Together, lead investigators Sluga (Sydney) and Kott (Geneva) will link these programs to draw historical attention to the twentieth century, when international thinking and institutions were consistently the first port of call at moments of greatest crisis, when international economic and social governance was not limited to trade and finance. This is a breakthrough point of departure for the field, setting new frameworks for international history, its interdisciplinary potential and its geopolitical prospects, and timed to coincide with the centenary of 1919.

projects
Participants
Sandrine Kott
University of Geneva
Prof. Glenda Sluga
University of Sydney

Evaluating and Framing Sustainability Priorities of Supply Chain Managers

Call 2018
Business and Economics
Earth and Environment

Supply chain managers are seen as critical environmental sustainability resources as they operationalise the corporate vision to achieve the economic and sustainability goals. The increasing regulatory pressures and growing stakeholder interests (customers, governments and non-governmental organisations) in sustainable practices have forced organisations to start rethinking the design and planning of their supply chains by adding a set of environmental and social performance metrics to the cost-based performance metrics. There are win-win sustainability practices – such as waste minimisation initiatives – where an organisation can simultaneously achieve economic goals and reduce negative environmental and social impacts. However, not all sustainability practices come with immediate cost savings. Indeed, most sustainability investments may not even pay off for decades. Therefore, the primary challenge of today’s organisations is to balance economic, environmental and social performance of their supply chains. This research aims to explore how managers balance economic, environmental and social goals when making strategic supply chain decisions. Whilst many mathematical models have been developed to analytically explore trade-off solutions, we aim to study this topic empirically taking into account the supply change managers viewpoints to understand the situations upon which an investment alternative actually is preferred over another. More precisely, we study the extent to which a manager’s attitude and background (sustainability-related beliefs, educational background, personal preferences, and risk aversion attitude) as well as the corporate sustainability policies influence strategic supply chain decisions. We explore responses to these questions using discrete choice experiments to examine inputs from supply chain professionals in Australia and Europe.

projects
Participants
Prof Benjamin Scheibehenne
University of Geneva
Prof Behnam Fahimni
University of Sydney

Losing Your Sense of Smell: An Untapped Marker of Neurodegeneration

Call 2018
Neuroscience
Medicine

Dementia is now the second leading cause of death and disability internationally. Accurate diagnosis, however, takes 3-4 years after symptom onset due, in part, to the lack of a fast, cheap and non-invasive clinical test. Emerging evidence suggests that a reduction in sense of smell (hyposmia), represents one of the earliest markers of neurodegeneration. Yet, existing olfactory tests are not suitable for large-scale roll out, because of test limitations and associated costs. Our project aims to evaluate a new test of olfactory function, developed by CI Hsieh, in a range of younger-onset dementia syndromes. This project brings together two teams of internationally recognized researchers in the areas of dementia (USYD – CI Piguet, CI Kumfor, CI Manuel Stocker) and olfaction (UNIGE – CI Hsieh, CI Coppin, CI Landis). The proposed project will be conducted at the Brain and Mind Centre Multidisciplinary Initiative and capitalises on USYD’s expertise in neuroscience and mental health. The funding will support testing costs, training in olfactory function assessment, and workshops to be held in both Sydney and Geneva, aimed at communicating these findings to health professionals and researchers in dementia and olfaction. If successful, this test has the potential to become part of a low cost and non-invasive routine neurology/GP examination for dementia, which would represent a major advance in the field of clinical biomarkers. In the longer term, we aim to extend this project to examine change in olfactory dysfunction with disease progression and sensitivity of olfactory dysfunction in detecting neurodegeneration in genetic carriers of dementia.

projects
Participants
Dr Julien Hsieh
University of Geneva
Dr Basile Landis
University of Geneva
Dr Géraldine Coppin
University of Geneva
Prof Olivier Piguet
University of Sydney
Dr Fiona Kumfor
University of Sydney
Dr Aurélie Manuel Stocker
University of Sydney

Peptide Nucleic Acid Aptamers as a Novel Drug Discovery Platform

Call 2018
Pharmacy

Traditional drug discovery efforts are often plagued by the linear nature of most synthetic strategies, the lack of structural diversity obtained from compound library synthesis and from the difficulty in rapidly screening a compound library against a particular drug target. Aptamers are small single-stranded nucleic acid molecules that fold into well-defined three-dimensional structures. These interact with proteins and other nucleic acids with high affinity and specificity, but are normally restricted to nucleic acids. This project will develop novel aptamer libraries using peptide nucleic acid (PNA) molecules as binding ligands instead of DNA or RNA. PNAs combine the hybridisation properties of DNA with the modularity and molecular diversity of peptides and will therefore lead to structurally unique scaffolds for drug discovery applications. The project will build upon cutting-edge templated peptide ligation technologies developed in a recently established, highly fruitful collaboration between the Payne laboratory at the University of Sydney and the Winssinger at the University of Geneva. The collaborative project will enable the development of libraries of peptide-PNA hybrid aptamers that can be used to select and enrich PNA topological folds that can inhibit enzyme activities and protein-protein interactions for drug discovery campaigns. As a starting point, the project will develop PNA-based aptamers that possess anti-inflammatory activity through antagonism of two receptors (CCR2 and CCR5) that are targets for anti-inflammatory drugs. The project will lead to numerous outcomes including the elucidation of new therapeutic leads, publication of high impact papers, filed patents and interdisciplinary training of PhD students.

projects
Participants
Prof Nicolas Winssinger
University of Geneva
Prof Richard Payne
University of Sydney

Wind waves steepening in coastal areas

Call 2018
Earth and Environment

The focusing of waves in coastal zones can represent a significant threat to coastal installations and to the residents in these areas. Indeed, a number of incidents related to extreme wave formation in shallow water have been reported lately. The most famous case is the famed “Bondi Black Sunday” event in 1938. During this incident, three rogue waves hit the shore in Bondi Beach washing out up to two hundred swimmers and killing five. The dynamics of ocean water waves can be described within the context of weakly nonlinear evolution equation such the nonlinear Schrödinger or its extended versions. The advantage in working with such a framework becomes obvious, when performing laboratory and numerical experiments. Due to its integrability it allows to clearly define experimental initial conditions while the numerical simulations are fast. Most importantly, a very good agreement is expected as revealed by the latest laboratory tests. The research topic proposed aims at understanding the effect of wind and beach geometries in the focusing of nearshore waves. The developed theoretical framework, based on the weakly nonlinear Schrödinger model, will be validated with laboratory experiments that are going to be conducted in the wave flume installed at the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Sydney. It is expected that the research will have a significant impact in the field of coastal engineering as well as in other interdisciplinary fields of physics such as optics and plasma physics. A long-term goal is to determine specific wave-wind-bottom features responsible for significant wave focusing and to assemble these into a short-term extreme event prediction tool.

projects
Participants
Prof Jérôme Kasparian
University of Geneva
Prof Amin Chabchoub
University of Sydney

Developing Human Rights Benchmarks for the Financial Service Industry –Testing indicators from an Australian project in Switzerland

Call 2019
Business and Economics

Financial service providers face a range of stakeholder expectations regarding their social responsibilities including, increasingly, the impacts their actions have on people’s basic human rights, such a privacy, non-discrimination and economic security. Developing human rights benchmarks specific to the financial service industry provides an opportunity to change culture and practices within financial services by providing an objective proxy of human rights performance.

This collaboration will explore the potential for extending the Financial Services Human Rights Benchmark (FSHRB) developed at the Sydney Law School by Dr. Kym Sheehan and Prof. David Kinley into Europe. Together with Dr. Dorothée Baumann-Pauly (Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights) we plan to review, refine, and then test the current benchmark methodology on a sample of financial services entities listed on the SIX Swiss Stock Exchange.

projects
Participants
David Kinley
University of Sydney
Dorothee Baumannn-Pauly
University of Geneva

Developing Shared Evaluation Frameworks for Digital Innovation in Culturally-Effective, Patient-Oriented Healthcare Translation and Communication: Australia and Switzerland

Call 2019
Digital Studies
Health
Languages

Effective health translation and communication strategies among multicultural populations lie at the heart of efforts to combat physical and mental diseases in multicultural societies like Australia and Switzerland. There is a persistent lack of standardised criteria and benchmarks for the development and evaluation of healthcare and medical translation resources and computerised translation systems. The lack of international standards and guidelines have impeded the effective adoption and implementation of health translation resources and technologies in healthcare research and clinical settings. Our project represents a first attempt to tackle this persistent, costly issue, which has become increasingly urgent in multicultural Australia and the refugee crisis in European countries like Switzerland. A key component of this project is to explore opportunities of the joint development of healthcare translation resources and communication technologies for Australian aboriginal communities.

projects
Participants
Meng Ji
University of Sydney
Pierrete Bouillon
University of Geneva

Novel stochastic numerical methods for complex multiscale dynamical systems with applications in microbiology

Call 2019
Mathematics

The opportunistic pathogen bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major cause of nosocomial infections and is responsible for dramatic complications in immunocompromised people. A dramatic side effect of the bacteria defense against metals, such as Zinc, is a resistance of the bacteria to antibiotics, as discovered and studied by the group of investigator Perron at UNIGE. Indeed, Zinc is an element commonly present in the environment as a pollutant, in medical devices (catheters) in certain human secretions or during phagocytosis. Understanding this phenomenon with a mathematical model of bacteria behavior in patients is a great challenge, which will help the design of efficient medical treatments and dosages against this pathogen.

Despite multiscale stochastic differential equations naturally arising as mathematical models, their efficient and reliable numerical study remains an open problem and it represents a key target of this project.

projects
Participants
Georg Gottwald
University of Sydney
Gilles Vilmart
University of Geneva

Out-of-sample prediction estimation to accurately predict response to immunotherapy drugs in metastatic melanoma

Call 2019
Statistics
Medicine

Anti-PD1 based immunotherapy has revolutionised cancer treatment in recent years. These drugs have been approved for many cancer types, and are now front-line treatment for metastatic melanoma, which has the highest response rate of any cancer type. Despite this, approximately half of metastatic melanoma patients fail to respond to therapy. In addition these treatments are expensive and can cause toxicity. Valid and accurate assessment of immunotherapy response prediction is essential for clinical decision making but has still remained a serious challenge.

This project aims to take comprehensive approach where both clinicopathological features, and, genomics expression variables are explored simultaneously to derive the most accurate prediction of response to immunotherapy treatment. The data analytics methods that will be used (with potential methodology extension) will deal with the “large p, small n” challenge that necessarily also induce computational complexity.

projects
Participants
Serigne Lo
University of Sydney
Maria-Pia Victoria-Feser
University of Geneva

Toward a more robust and comprehensive energy performance certificate to promote building sustainability

Call 2019
Earth and Environment

Improving building performance is key tackling the challenges of climate change, considering that they account for 40% of the global energy consumption. Sustainability labels and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), notably CECB (CH) and NatHERS (AU), aim to address this. However, EPCs certify the design and rely on simulations and assumptions regarding the buildings’ construction and operation.

Previous studies highlighted the gap between expectations set by energy labels and reality, reflected in higher energy bills and environmental impacts, driven particularly by modelling uncertainty in indoor temperature and ventilation rate. More research is needed to understand how to integrate these into EPC processes. The project aims to understand the impacts of indoor temperature and ventilation rate through a complementary approach using big data analysis and experiments with human participants. These two perspectives will enable the identification of improvements to the EPC methodology.

projects
Participants
Arianna Brambilla
University of Sydney
Prof. Martin Patel
University of Geneva